The Disney version of the early life of King Arthur. Brought up as a scullery boy with the nickname of Wart, Arthur goes through important magical training at the hands of the wise wizard Merlin. It transpires that the sorceror has the boy earmarked for greater things, but Arthur must undergo a number of tests before he can fulfil his destiny.
As far as Disney is concerned, The Sword in the Stone
was a portent of things to come, with slapstick upstaging storytelling, and cultural in-jokes substituting for wonder. Based on TH White's beloved novel The Once and Future King
, this Disney version chronicles King Arthur's boyish adventures. There's much to enjoy here as coach Merlin the magician shows the young Arthur, nicknamed Wart, the skills that will help him become the future ruler of the Britons. The transformation sequences, where the boy is turned into a fish, a bird and a squirrel are vintage Disney. The oft-repeated scene of Merlin battling it out with mean old Madame Mim still is worth a few chuckles, but it underlines the problem with most of the film--most of its scenes are only played for laughs. References by Merlin to television and other items of modern life also mar the generally innocuous landscape. Younger children will like it, while older kids will find it slower compared with recent Disney films. --Keith Simanton
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